A week sailing around the Seychelles with friends – not a bad way to spend your time I would say.
Well, last month that’s just what Sean got up to, and I asked him to write about his experiences so that I could share it on here. It’s a great read – he does gets a bit cocky half way through suggesting that I ought to “keep up” with his country count, but you can just ignore this – pass it off as a bit of male bravado! – (I will keep up ‘big bro’ and I’ll wave to you as I pass you by – haha)
Anyway, here’s what Sean had to say about his time in the Seychelles. I hope you laugh and smile just as much as I did! Enjoy 🙂
I’m three hours due East from Nairobi where my Kenyan Airways flight took off
from. I’m looking out of my little window, at the ocean below and the cluster of
little islands that are quickly becoming large islands; the Seychelles.
I am flying in to meet some friends who are travelling up from South Africa, and
together we will be setting sail on a 44 foot catamaran, hopping from island to
island for a week’s holiday. I should be excited. I should be happy. I should be a
lot of things.
I should be looking through my little porthole and seeing blue and turquoise
waters breaking gently against white sanded beaches. I should be seeing hills
covered in tropical greenery, waterfalls cascading down bare rock faces. I should
be seeing the harbour and the flotilla of gleaming white hulls, one of which will
shortly be home to five of us and a skipper for the next six nights. This is what I
should be seeing, and what I would be seeing, if what I wasn’t seeing was just a
cluster of potential toilets.
I had been expecting a bit of a dodgy gut whilst at sea, but I was prepared for
that, the motion sickness tablets bought at the dodgy 24 hour pharmacy near
where I live and where you could buy anything from aspirin to ketamine with
nothing more than a smile, a wink, and a nod, were packed closely to hand in the
top zip of my bag. What I hadn’t been planning on was the safe option of a pizza
the night before unleashing hoards of ill intentioned bacteria into my gut, on a
delayed fuse, set to detonate half way into my flight. I had already ruined at least
one person’s journey, if not entire day, by making use of the facilities on board
the aircraft, but now the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign was on, we were on approach, and
the sweat was starting to appear in beads upon my forehead. I was trying to take
my mind off the rumblings in my stomach by focusing on what was looming
nearer and nearer out my window, but it wasn’t working. All I could see were
potential toilets. Every house, every building, every bush, I knew, was hiding a
Thankfully the airport on Mahe is only a little one, and fifteen minutes after
touch down and one minute twenty-nine seconds after walking down the ladder
and getting tarmac under foot, I was, ummm, happier.
But here’s the thing, as I was sat there being, ummm, happy, I couldn’t help but think about toilets. How many times have you been to some mega plush airport, hotel, or shopping mall, where the air-conditioning is good enough to shrivel your balls, the floor so highly polished you could check your black head situation in, and the service so immaculate that you felt you were royalty, but you drink one or two too many mojitos, fill up your tank, go for a pee to relieve the stress, and walk into a public toilets that looks like something from the set of ‘Trainspotting’? I mean surely the place where you are going to have your pants around your ankles or your pleasure in your hand, should be warm and welcoming, and clean. Very bloody clean! Is there a more terrifying, mind goes blank, skin crawls, and eyes go wide moment, then when as a bloke you are sat on the throne in a WC, and your chap accidently and only ever so slightly, betrays you and brushes up against the cold, white porcelain of the bowel. At moments like this you want to be able to look around at the pristine condition of the facilities you are in, and imagine that, it’s ok, these look clean, it’s not going to fall off just yet. So you do look around, and you see: toilet paper on the floor, no soap, cracked mirrors, loose plaster and witty graffiti indicating that ‘Baz woz ere.’ Though this being the Seychelles I think the signage I was admiring was owned by a certain ‘Pierre’.
I like to think of myself as fairly well travelled, I’m certainly better travelled than
Jenni – do try to keep up sis – and I have noticed this crap toilet phenomenon in
way too many places to be happy about, particularly in the Emirates.
I mean shiny floors and a functioning air conditioning system are great; as long
as you don’t slip in your leather shoes, or catch a cold. What would really
impress me though, is if I walked into a heads and it was pristine, with sound
proof cubicles, urinals where you don’t have to worry about accidently coping a
glance at somebody else’s tackle because you are standing so close to each other,
and where the poo tickets are triple ply. That’s something I would definitely
write home about.
Anyway, enough digression, but next time you are in a public toilets, especially in
the Emirates, look around, Taj Mahal, or Chicken Cottage?
The first day then was spent being ‘happy’ at regular occasions, so it was lucky
we weren’t due to pull anchor and set sail until day two. I was still a little green
when I woke up, but that was OK, after a five-hour sail on fairly choppy seas I
wasn’t the only one who was looking a little peaked. The vessel we were on was
something else: four cabins, all with their own en suite facilities, thank god;
shaded area front and back; electronic gadgets that did all the raising and
lowering of the sail; and air con. It was less like a boat and more like a floating
When we finally reached the shelter and calmer seas of the first island on our
route, we had already caught dinner – skipjack- so all that was left to do was
jump in, swim ashore and start working on our tans.
The next few days proceeded in pretty much the same way: waking up, having a
swim, moving onto the next island catching lunch and dinner on the way, anchor,
swim, eat and laugh – lots and lots of laughing. And rum of course. And wine. Lots
and lots of laughing, rum and wine.
The setting for the holiday then was more than could be hoped for and the sailing
we were to be doing was my ideal kind of sailing; the kind where you don’t sail
very much, instead just doing short jumps to long stop overs. However, you can
be in what is many people’s idea of paradise – which with its warm waters so
clear you could see your shadow on the ocean floor from ten metres up, and
white sand so fine it tickled between your toes, the Seychelles can without doubt
claim to be in the running for – but the success of any trip is always going to come down to the people you are sharing that trip with. And with this, I really couldn’t have been more lucky.
In the group there was Dan who invited me on the trip, and who I knew pretty
well already, having been on a course together a couple of years back, and then
had spent Christmas and New Year’s with him and his family just outside Cape
Town. There was Neil and Robyn, a married couple I had met a couple of times
during that last trip; and with whom I had drank the most incredible wine with
one night after a braai. And Janine, Dan’s new partner in crime, who I was
meeting for the first time. As a group of people, as a group of friends, you
couldn’t ask for better. In such a confined space as a boat at sea, there is a lot of
scope for people to rub up against each other and cause the occasional moment
of furrowed brows, raised blood pressure, and passive aggressive mutterings
under the breath. The six nights I spent with this group, I swear there was none
of that. Well, at least from me. Who knows, maybe they all wanted to cast me
overboard and leave me with ‘Wilson’ on one of the less habituated islands we
But me, personally, I couldn’t have been any more relaxed, or any
more content than those six days sailing around paradise.
One night we stopped off in a little port where there had been an inter island
football match on during the day, which the local team had played in. The game
had been a draw, but the atmosphere was as electric as the colours on the
clothes of the young men and women who were taking over the streets on their
feet and their bikes. With the people set against a backdrop of brightly coloured
buildings, brushed in the warm light of another multi-coloured sunset, the town
looked like a living painting.
Topping up our alcohol levels to a point where the music from the ocean-fronted
bar on the side of the harbour started sounding inviting, we went ashore and
joined in the fun. Though in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there is a definite
African/French feel to the Seychelles, and by this I mean an ability to dance. Well.
Back in England, I go to a bar and 10% of people can dance and the other 90% of
the people can’t, instead waving arms around like they’re having a fit, singing
along, and jumping up and down whilst doing hand gestures along with the
lyrics. In Africa, as in the Seychelles, it’s the other way around, and generally that
10% who can’t dance in the club is me and my mates.
The club we ended up in this night was dark, humid, stuffy, and filled with dark
sweaty bodies, who really knew how to dance. Women who effortlessly moved
their bodies with rhythm, and an energy so powerfully sexual that the air
seemed to grow thicker around them. The feeling in these clubs is nothing like
the feeling you get in clubs back home where a night out is about getting pissed
and having a laugh. In clubs like these, it is about the music and the dancing.
About letting the beat take over your body so that it moves naturally with the
I think then that they were impressed when I started demonstrating the
complex movements involved in ‘the sprinkler’ and ‘the lawnmower’. The night
ended when the music ended, and the next day we were back out to sea, back out
to another tropical beach, with more laughter, more fun, more memories to be
had. And more rum to drink!
It’s hard to really describe the beaches we went to beyond the obvious and what I have already mentioned: the clear waters, white sand, and tropical inland hills.
What I can mention though is a thing I saw repeated again and again at all these
little beaches and coves that are as spectacular as any postcard you have ever
seen from places like this. I kept seeing people ignoring it. Each evening as the
sun was ending his shift for the day, hanging low, underneath the few scattered
evening clouds in the sky, the light reaching that point where it cast everything it
still touched in a golden light, and as the sky and the clouds became enflamed in
a rich, saturated miasma of reds, and oranges, and purples, all these people
would be taking ‘selfies’. Bloody selfies!
They would have their backs to a sunset so intense, so dramatic, so beautiful
that it could have even me doubting my disbelief in a ‘grand plan’. Standing
there, their arms stretched out in front of them, camera phone in hand, they
would take a snap, check it, realise they were a fraction of an inch out, and then
repeat. And repeat. And repeat, until there was no sunset left to be taken in front
of. What a bloody waste. It’s like people don’t experience things for the joy of
experiencing it any more. They don’t take a second to feel the moment they are
in; to appreciate it, to let it envelope them. They are too busy thinking about how
many ‘likes’ they might get from this selfie they are busy taking!
Oh, and star jumps. I can’t not mention the latest craze of star jump photos that seemed to be
sweeping the beaches of the Seychelles. It was quite a site to be sitting on the
back of the boat, Takamaka rum, or Neil Pattinson wine in hand (Sulphur free,
made by the Neil I was on the boat with. Incredible tasting, and no hang over)
and watching all these people on the shore doing star jumps. To begin with I
thought we had come across some kind of fitness bootcamp. It took me a few
minutes to realise it was just a bunch of over zealous selfie enthusiasts we were
This feeling, or this need to get the perfect selfie, the perfect photo of a sunset, of
a beach, a hill or a building, of anything, maybe this was linked to something else
I noticed whilst in the Seychelles. It was early morning, the sun was just rising,
and being on a boat it was like being perfectly placed between day and night,
between light and dark. It’s my favourite time of day even if I generally don’t like
being awake to see it. It’s a time when the world is at peace, everything is fresh,
possibility is everywhere, I can make anything I like out of this day, out of my
day. And it is mine. When I’m awake and everybody else is asleep, it feels as if I
own the moment.
I swam ashore. The sun was coming from behind the island, from in shore, and so
was only reaching the beach at occasional breaks in the tree line. I sat in one of
the puddles of light on the sand this made, framed by the gently swaying
shadows of palm leaves. I sat watching the sea and the colours that were slowly
changing upon it, thinking about not much at all. Then from my side I noticed
some movement. I turned my head to look and saw a rather large bottomed
young lady with a pretty, happy face, walking along, sweeping back the fallen
leaves and bracken from the fringe of trees that lined the beach, and that had broken off to litter the sand. Suddenly I found myself looking at where I was differently. The façade had dropped. I had been sitting in a perfect piece of
nature. I was now sat in a perfect piece of man created nature. Tourists have
decided what nature should look like, what perfection should look like, and that
meant nice, clean, swept beaches, with actual nature kept daily at bay. I mean, as
far as façades go, this was the one you would want to be in, but how arrogant
have we become that we now think we get to decide on what nature should look
like? Why must we make nature conform to our ideals? Why must we be so vain
as to think we can control everything. OK, I’ve had a couple of beers and a couple
of glasses of wine before and during writing this (Not sulphur free unfortunately,
so I might have a headache tomorrow), so you may need to excuse me for talking
rubbish, but it just seems indicative of where we are going so wrong with this
planet, with nature. We think we are here to master the planet, to use it for our
gain. Every other animal lives with nature, they fit it, they conform. We, we make
the world live for us. It can’t. It shouldn’t. It won’t.
But that little drip there doesn’t take anything away from the holiday, or the
place. I can’t remember the last time that I saw so many breath taking views, or
when I laughed so hard and so frequently, especially in such a short amount of
time as only six nights. Sometimes I wonder how I ever became so lucky as to
have had as many unforgettable experiences as I’ve had, and particularly, how I
have managed to have such incredible people to share them all with. However it
is, I am thankful, and can only hope that it will continue for years to come.
Photos © Sean Power Photography